Laminating our countertops

Sometimes you can save a lot of time and money by doing everything yourself and then there are other times where getting professional help is actually the cheaper option.

Case in point: a few weeks ago I got a great deal on some gorgeous hard maple to make into countertops. Boards are just the beginning though, they still need to be sliced up, glued, and sanded. I’ve done quite a few countertop glue ups, but ever since I downsized my shop I don’t have nearly the heavy machinery or large clamps that I used to. A quick calculation in my head for everything I would need to buy had me at a minimum of $400 and a couple days of hard labor.

The other option was to to pay a shop to do the work which is where Creative Woodworking NW comes in. Located in Southeast Portland, Creative is housed in a massive building filled with tools I can only dream of.

Our first stop was the monster ripsaw which simultaneously jointed and sliced our 130 board feet into staves in literally less than two minutes.

Then Liz and I spent 20 minutes laying everything out the way we wanted and Mark brought us back to their new massive hydraulic rotary glue up table.

We pulled the staves one by one across a glue roller and set them on the table where a hydraulic arm came down to push everything into perfect alignment and a track mounted air gun tightened the clamps.

As soon as the first glue up was tightened the entire table rotated for a fresh surface for the next glue up and another after that.

After drying overnight we came back and ran the three glue ups through a massive planer sander.

Shop time start to finish was an hour and a half and is probably the best $225 I’ve ever spent. All that remains is to cross cut the glue ups sand them lightly with 220 and then apply finish. The maple cost us $500, and we got 50 square feet of butcher block. Total cost comes in at $14 a square foot. We’re pretty darn stoked! Thank you to Building Materials Resources for the wood and Creative Woodworking for the shop time!

– Brian

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